He was followed for a short time before two black and whites rushed in and pulled him over near 6th and G streets.
All were taken into custody, but soon after authorities learned one of the girls was only 16 years old and forced into that life by a relative.
On Thursday, the FBI — in partnership with the San Bernardino Police Department — along with the San Bernardino County Human Trafficking task force consisting of a combination of investigators from the District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Department and Fontana police department and members of the San Bernardino County Probation Department swarmed this city. Their goal was to curb street prostitution and rescue children forced into selling their bodies for sex.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller declined to comment about the ongoing operation itself, but said the FBI and its law enforcement partners work together to stop the cycle of victimization that results from the prostitution of minors and to hold accountable individuals who profit from exploiting children.
These crimes occur in cities, big and small, and victimize children across societal and economic strata, she added.
Authorities rescued two young girls from this life Thursday night and arrested 14 people suspected in a variety of crimes which included pimping, pandering, prostitution and solicitation.
This was part of a larger three-day nationwide effort focusing on underage victims of prostitution known as Operation Cross Country.
As of 2013, the federally backed Innocence Lost National Initiative has resulted in the identification and recovery of more than 2,700 children who have been sexually exploited since its inception in 2003.
“Human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation have been a hidden plague on our county, state, and nation for many years,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos said.
“In 2009 my office took a leadership role to respond to this problem and created the county’s Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation. CASE brought together a partnership of county departments including the District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Department, Probation Department, County Superintendent of Schools, Department of Children and Family Services, Public Defender, and Department of Behavioral Health, to raise awareness of this issue, and to provide enhanced county and community resources to victims.”
|Amy Andrews of Family Assistance Program consoles a 16-year-old girl on Thursday after she was rescued from a life of prostitution during Operation Cross Country in San Bernardino. John Valenzuela — Staff Photographer|
“They’re looking for younger girls walking the tracks (streets),” one undercover officer said. “But the Internet has been a big part of prostitution over the last few years.”
Law enforcement monitors websites that cater to the sex trades such as Backpage.com and MyRedBook.com.
“Usually the more money it takes to buy a girl the younger she is,” said one undercover officer. “Craigslist used to have a section catering to the sex trades but after a nationwide lashing they eventually removed it.”
Pimps were a specific target of the sweep.
During operations in San Bernardino, a man and his partner suspected of pimping and pandering a juvenile were taken into custody at the Leisure Inn & Suites at 777 W. 6th St.
As police pulled them over the passenger was in the process of placing an ad on one of the websites to sell prostitutes.
Police allegedly identified the two as documented members of a local criminal street gang known as Pimps Players Hustlers and Gangsters who mainly deal in prostitution. As officers were making the arrest, three prostitutes were waiting inside the motel room.
“Most of these girls will work all night and sometimes 24 hours to make their quota to pay their pimp,” said another undercover officer. “Sometimes these girls will work the streets just so they can get some rest. They’re underfed and are forced into this life by fear.”
He went on to explain that pimps tell the girls they’ll hurt them or their family members if they don’t do what they’re told, and sometimes just do it to break them down.
“They’re what we call gorilla pimps,” he said. “They use fear, intimidation and brute force to control their prostitutes.”
One undercover officer compared the life of prostitution as one of modern-day slavery.
“Nobody should live like this,” he said. “In my eyes this is torture, slavery and modern day terrorism and in the eyes of the law it will not be tolerated.”
Authorities explained that gangs, who at one time wouldn’t have ventured in this line of work, have thrown their twisted honor out the window to obtain that reoccurring capital that comes with the sex-slave trades.
“Drugs can only be sold once and then they have to get more,” officials said “But a girl can be sold up to 20 times a day.”
On the prosecutorial side, Ramos has announced several directives to strengthen his zero-tolerance policy on human trafficking.
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